Maple sap tapping: open houses, recipes

The quaint notion of sap dripping from tree to bucket is a quickly fading snapshot for some maple syrup producers, and this is the time of year to better understand how the business is thriving and changing at some farms in Wisconsin. Drewry Farms in Sheboygan County produced about 2,700 gallons of sap from 4,500(…)

Milwaukee: new Blue Ribbon City emerging on Pabst campus

Two things make this Milwaukee brewery tour atypical: Your free pint is tapped before the sightseeing begins, and five minutes – tops – are spent talking about how beer is made. What visitors learn will pertain much more to advertising, architecture, relationships and rebirth than hops, lagers, filters and fermentation. The 90-minute tour at Best(…)

Whipping up lots of suds in Madison with craft beer

Nowhere in Wisconsin does the craft of contemporary brewing seem more contagious than Madison and Dane County. The area is filling growlers and opening new breweries at an appreciable rate. It’s not any one place’s level of production that raises eyebrows, but the proliferation of like-minded businesses, neighborhood brewpubs to production plants with ambitious goals.(…)

Mennonite Relief Sale: quilts, bakery, ‘Menno food’

Less than 200 miles separate Wisconsin from Bloomington, Ill., but what a potential difference in buffet lines: Red beet eggs. Ham loaf. Vareniky (stuffed dumplings). Turnip slaw. Suet pudding. Shoofly pie. This is “Menno food” and some of the recipes – like the suet pudding, palatable because of molasses or sorghum, plus whipped cream topping(…)

Dream Dance chef wins pork recipe contest

Meat lovers crave thick and juicy steaks, right? Let’s say “part right,” because pork during the past two years has been the food-service industry’s fastest-growing protein. That means cutting-edge restaurant chefs are giving pork entrées more than a perfunctory nod on their menus. The Wisconsin Pork Producers Association helps this along with the annual Taste(…)

Wisconsin wines: Fast-growing industry ready for global exposure?

Seems like everybody makes predictions during this time of year. We assign odds to football championships and celebrity romances. We speculate which quirks and changes will turn into trends or cultural shifts. Those who guess right become experts and visionaries. Those who guess wrong risk their credibility. So it pays to have a clear crystal(…)

Germany at Christmas: marzipan, stollen, gingerbread go global

The world’s courts protect foods and beverages that are unique because of where they are produced. True Parmesan cheese comes from Parma, Italy. Champagne, a French product, is a specific type of sparkling wine. Sweet onions from only a precise part of Georgia can be branded Vidalia. In Germany, more than 100 items are deemed(…)

Soup to nuts: recipes to ward off autumn’s chill

Chilly outdoor temps motivate me to turn on the oven or experiment in the kitchen through other means. A spa’s new recipe book, an event’s contest results and a hotel’s bold challenge provide just what I need to proceed. — Sundara Inn and Spa, Wisconsin Dells, celebrates its 10th anniversary with publication of the cookbook(…)

Appleton T-Mac BBQ team wins big at American Royal

In the thick sea of luxury RVs, scrappy trailers, tent awnings and dwindling daylight, I found Tom McIntosh of Appleton. The flapping Green Bay Packer flag at his base camp was a dead giveaway on these 20 acres of concrete in Kansas City. Tom was here to cook this month but didn’t expect to smoke(…)

Farm-to-table work a natural fit at The Black Sheep, Whitewater

Tyler Sailsbery is plowing a career path based on solutions to his own frustrations. When it wasn’t easy for him to find appropriate student housing in Whitewater, he successfully established The award-winning 2010 class project continues as an online guide to off-campus housing in Whitewater and Madison. And when Tyler couldn’t find “food cooked(…)

Hidden Springs Creamery: top cheeses, remote B&B

Two batches of cheese per day, twice a week: That is Brenda Jensen’s work routine during this time of year, on a remote farm in southwest Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. The cheeses have earned her at least 50 awards, and that includes six ribbons from this month’s American Cheese Society competition. Wisconsin is home to hundreds(…)

Great places to eat along the Great River Road

The Great River Road, a National Scenic Byway that hugs the Mississippi River, is 75 years old. It’s a route of great rural flavors as well as beautiful scenery. The byway meanders through 10 states for almost 3,000 miles and includes about 250 miles in Wisconsin, where small towns and farms nourish visitors in sometimes(…)

Little Wisco spirit creates NYC restaurant empire

No U.S. metropolis is larger than New York City, a land of many choices, easy anonymity and ever-wary strangers. Around 4,200 restaurants help nourish the population of 8.2 million. Two miles south of Midtown skyscrapers and the commotion of Times Square is the West Village, where attitude and streetscape mutate quite a bit. Side streets(…)

Two new books pay homage to supper club sizzle

Unusual ingredients, recipes, meals and food traditions are at the core of what defines culture all around the globe. That includes what we take for granted about Wisconsin cooking and customs. Everybody eats, a lot of us enjoy talking about food and online sites such as hint at the passion we have to photograph(…)

Wollersheim’s first brandy sells out quickly

Grounds to Wollersheim Winery, across the Wisconsin River from Prairie du Sac, open at 8 a.m. April 13, and winemaker Philippe Coquard expects a crowd before doors open 90 minutes later. Making a debut that morning: 5,000 bottles of Coquard Brandy, an all-Wisconsin product, right down to the barrels of Wisconsin oak that the liquor(…)

Many cheese courses exist in America’s Dairyland

It’s business as usual in Wisconsin, which produces the most and best cheese nationally, but the culture is growing in new ways. America’s Dairyland this month won 47 of 81 categories at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, whose 1,700 entries came from 30 states. Next in line: Vermont and New York, each with six gold(…)

Badger cooking classes for kids teach healthy eating habits, too

You could say that Carol Burkert teaches survival skills to children, and the work begins with girls and boys as young as 9 years old. Her Kids Can Cook culinary school, for ages 9-12, began in 2008 and happens at Caroline’s Cafe, just west of Milwaukee. Six-student classes involve basic kitchen skills, and after four,(…)

Best Wisconsin chocolates: Start with make-your-own candy bars

I’ve built many tacos, fajitas, pizzas, salads, sandwiches and stir-fry meals while on the road, but never – until meeting Liz Garvey in Appleton – had I ever built a dream bar of chocolate. A custom-made candy bar weighs in around one-half pound and costs $9.50 at Wilmar Chocolates, which began business in 1956. The(…)

Gifts for foodies: ice cream treats to trips of a lifetime

People who travel will eat, and that makes every meal away from home an opportunity to create a beautiful memory. “Sharing the food and drink of another culture is one of the best ways to get to know that culture,” says Erik Wolf, president of the International Culinary Tourism Association. “Another culture” can mean another(…)

Milwaukee Food Tours: whiffs of bakeries, ethnicity

Aboard the designated “yellow limousine,” which looks an awful lot like a school bus, Sandy Oliver adjusts her elf’s hat and advises us to pace ourselves. Then her holiday and ethnic history lessons begin. What do Irish families eat on Christmas? Spiced beef, served hot or cold. Who stretches the yuletide season into a three-week(…)

Cranberries: winning recipes for all courses

Wisconsin farmers harvested about 4.5 million barrels of cranberries this year, which makes us the nation’s leading producer of the berry for 18 consecutive years. Once a year, during the last weekend in September, little Warrens – population 350, in Monroe County – presents a festival that is the largest of its kind. No other(…)

Beer here: Much a-brew in Wisconsin pubs, restaurants

The Brewers Association, which represents 1,900 small and independent brewers nationwide, says most Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery and that Wisconsin had 75 breweries at the end of 2011. The total doesn’t include new breweries being planned in Algoma, Hales Corners, Madison, Mequon, Orfordville and Waldo. The association also says the nation’s(…)

Canyon Road Inn B&B: woodsy retreat near Turtle Lake

Third in a series about the wide range of bed and breakfast lodging in Wisconsin. The state contains 300-plus licensed B&Bs, including this one. — How appropriate that we’re following the Sunset Trail as a sunny day nears its end, and the path leads us to a bench that overlooks quiet Skinaway Lake. Newlyweds already(…)